When individuals think about academics at TWU, some of the first things that come to mind are the competitive nursing program or the renowned Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy programs. However, one of TWU’s newest and most exciting programs is the lesser known Flavor Chemistry program which was unveiled earlier this year.
The program is led by Xiaofen Du, Ph.D., who has several years of experience in food science research and was a lead scientist for the Swedish based company Firmenich Aromatics. Although Dr. Du is new to TWU, she has high hopes for her future and for the future of the Flavor Chemistry program.
Currently, the Flavor Chemistry program offers an M.S. in Nutrition and Flavor Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Nutrition with an emphasis on flavor chemistry. The Flavor Chemistry program currently only has four students enrolled, but with a need for flavor chemists and a projected growth in the field of Flavor Chemistry, the program is expected to grow exponentially.
The Flavor Chemistry program focuses on the isolation of compounds responsible for flavors and aromas and aims to find real-world application for these findings. Some of the obvious real-world applications of Flavor Chemistry include modifying food for flavor and taste and recreating smells for colognes and perfumes. However, Flavor Chemistry can also help in creating an eco-friendlier solution to waste disposal.
One of the research projects being done now focuses on the flavor and metabolites found in watermelon rind that can be used after it is discarded, which can be seen as a type of recycling. In turn, this would lead to the ability to recycle several tons of watermelon waste a year through harvesting flavors and metabolites that can later be used by humans.